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New incentives aimed at retaining, hiring teachers in Union County: 'We have urgency in this county'

UCPS approved a plan Tuesday night to get teaching support where the district needs it most.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County Public Schools leaders approved a plan on Tuesday to give out targeted bonuses in an effort to help staffing at schools and in content areas that need it.  

UCPS called the idea their strategic staffing initiative aimed at hiring more teachers in specific subjects and schools.  

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The district is facing a challenge many other districts around the country are dealing with: finding teachers. In response to the ongoing challenge, UCPS will offer recruitment bonuses for licensed teachers that meet certain qualifications.

"We have urgency in this county... and what that means for this initiative is getting the most effective teachers in front of our kids," UCPS Superintendent Andrew Houlihan said. 

Vacancies at Monroe Middle School have persuaded district leaders to offer a $5,500 bonus for the next school year to teacher candidates hired for licensed positions.  

The board also approved a $4,000 bonus for teachers hired in English, math and science at Forest Hills High School, Monroe High School and East Union Middle School.

There are similar incentives up for grabs for current and licensed teachers. Those who qualify must work at the four schools listed or within the subjects that need instructors. 

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"Happy for our principals, especially now that they have a little incentive to work with to try and fill vacancies and hire positions for next year," Houlihan explained.

UCPS will use COVID dollars called ESSER funds to cover next year's expenses but Houlihan said they'll need to get creative when they end in 2024. The district does have a sustainable plan to keep the strategy alive but will look at other ways to fund the recruitment plan.  

Contact Colin Mayfield at cmayfield@wcnc.com or follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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